I was reading an article this morning on Scary Mommy. The author discusses the changes that she had to make once she had a third child. I relate to so many of the comments she made. Parenting three kids is a juggling act. Someone is always waiting for your time and attention.
My youngest is a year and half old. Since my pregnancy we have all been making adjustments. From the slowing down as I got big enough to need my own zip code to preparing the kids for another sibling to making peace with the necessary changes in my parenting. Slowly, I have been finding my way to not giving a fuck.
The biggest realization came recently when my anxiety and exhaustion caused a full breakdown in front of my family. Tears and crying that there was not enough of me to go around for all of them. That I felt I was failing them. The most amazing thing happened. Instead of them validating my fears, I received unconditional love and support.
My middle child (age 4) gave me magic kisses and hugs. Squeezing me tight saying “my hugs are magic and will make you better, right?” … always baby, always. The oldest (age 6) gave me a kiss on forehead, told me it would be okay and then went and got my childhood teddy bear. The youngest laid his head on my lap and patted me. In that moment I realized I wasn’t a total failure as a parent. These kids learned unconditional love and support from their dad and I.
The other realization to my anxiety trigger came from my husband. He pointed out that I wasn’t failing anyone. Our life was not filled with the hard deadlines I was used to from my career and past relationships. Things were fluid here with different priorities than I was used to. We discussed that a bit more.
This moment has been playing over in my mind and my heart. It summarizes the internal struggle I have been having. As a child and young adult I struggled between my wild self and doing as I was told so my parents would love me. This behavior translated into my teen and young adulthood, shaping how I had my first adult relationships.
On a professional level, I learned how to play the corporate games. How to act in that environment so I would get the right review and pay increase. Inside I was drowning. Twisted in anxiety and depression because my true self was being smothered every moment of every day with other people’s deadlines and agendas. All for the pretense of love and acceptance.
On the surface I had a wonderful career and family. Inside I was dying and it made me a person I disliked. Looking in the mirror was painful because the image reflected back was one of self loathing. The more I told my now ex-husband how unhappy I was, the more ungrateful and impossible to please he told me I was. This spiraled for almost two decades until it exploded.
The explosion brought with it much happiness and the life I wanted. But the anxiety haunts me. I have spent so much of my life being what everyone else wants I cannot shake the feeling that I am a fraud. The hardest expectation I have ever had is the one my current husband has for me, to be myself. He likes who I am. Something I am not used to as I was raised that wild, passionate, outspoken, clumsy person is something to be ashamed of.
Today, I have no deadlines to change my personal behavior or habits if I want love. The love is simply there. There are no expectations to have the house and kids look a certain way when he comes home. Alive and hopefully happy (they are toddlers) is enough. It reminds me that even my approach to a more organic and fluid life has been a structured plan in my head with timeframes to accomplish certain changes. The opposite of organic and fluid.
In my own way I have been working towards not giving a fuck what others think of me or what they feel the agenda for my life is for many years. Those that have been close to me over the years have not understood why this was so hard. It was impossibly hard because it was tied into being loved, accepted and valued. Until I learned the true meaning of that I could not move forward.
Each day I get to decide what is important and whether or not I give a fuck. Love is wonderful and messy, not a Hollywood production with music, perfect light, and often unlimited funds. True acceptance is filled with flaws, communication, raw honesty and love. Those are the things worth giving a fuck about.
5 April 2018
Anxiety and depression cause the ebb and flow of emotions to churn on a consistent basis. A roller coaster is not an adequate analogy, but the ocean is. One moment stormy seas and the next moment calm waters. Never knowing when the tides would change in response to darkening skies.
I have lived with anxiety and depression my entire life. THis is what sent me on the road to spirituality and holistic living. There was no desire to spend my life on pharmaceuticals that made me sick. Medication has its place and should be used when needed, however if I can achieve the same results without pharmacology then I choose to do that.
Practicing my religion, meditation and writing have always given me solace. Feeling the ground beneath my feet, the breeze on my skin and the warmth of the sun comfort and strength. My hands in the dirt release and peace.
The emotional churn these last few years has been horrid. Death, divorce, miscarriages, adoption, pregnancy, birth, losing my land… so many changes in 6 years. Most of the time I haven’t felt that I can catch my breath before the next wave of emotional circumstances set in.
The emotional churn pulled me in for a long time. Deep into myself and my head. I analyze everything for long periods of time. Now that I am once again focused on my spiritual practices and not merely surviving, I feel as though I can breathe. There is a lot to digest about the past several years and the anxiety monster needs tamed once again, but I finally have the strength to care for myself not just my family.
My well is finally full enough to move forward. Each day I regain more for my well and that gives me more for my family as well. The emotional churn of anxiety may never fully leave me. PTSD may not allow for that, but I know it can get better. It has before and it will again.
I am at the point in my motherhood journey that I need to explore who I am. The last six years has been focused on infants, diapers, sleep, teething, adoption and pregnancy. As my youngest has fully entered the toddler stage I now need to explore where my life is and what these next chapters hold for all of us. They will always be my primary focus however as their needs shift and change I can begin to shift and change with them.
Our life is in an ebb and flow as the ocean to the moon. It is a dance of beauty and joy; ranging from wild to destructive to calm. As we explore the full depths of our personalities as individuals and a family our lives become richer by the moment. These moments are colored with joy, frustration, laughter and tears. Nothing can make you crazier than your children and you will never love anything more than those wild exuberant beings.
They have taught me more about myself in the last 6 years than I learned in the prior three decades. I know what I firmly want to remove from my personality, what I resent from my childhood and the loving kindness that I cannot live without. As I push them to stretch, dream and explore what their passions are I am reminded that I am turning a corner in motherhood. My days are coming out of the stretch of completely sleepless nights and survival mode of small children and entering a new phase of exploration and creativity.
There has been so much the last six years have taught me about relationships, boundaries, slowing down and myself. I am fortunate that most of my dreams have been fulfilled and I have a partner who is supporting me as I work on the rest. I have learned so much about my body and gentleness. In pregnancy I learned more about the mind, body, spirit journey than I did in decades of spiritual and holistic study. The lesson of being gentle took new meaning as I held my oldest in my arms for the first time. When my second child was born I stared at him in the nursery amazed at how tiny he was and terrified to hold him. When I carried my last child in my body I was in awe of the raw power of him inside me. Each child has changed me and for that I am grateful.
But now is the time for me to explore who I am at this point in my life. Where have the tides taken me? My first love was writing and it still is. I am out of practice and shy about it these days, but it is still the one thing that excites me and makes me feel completely alive. In fact, learning to write on the computer has been a challenge for me. I love the feel of pen and paper, but pregnancy carpal tunnel made that near impossible. So today, I begin to explore my love and depth of writing once again. To find my voice and to break free from the fear and share.
Explore your life, Find your Passion and live it!
As a stay at home parent who does not send their child to pre-school I am always looking for ways to teach my child that will not drive me crazy. Today’s focus was on mathematics. I intensely dislike math from my own school days. As such it is imperative that I find ways to make it as fun as possible for both our sake.
Some time ago I realized that Uno is a wonderful tool for pre-school math. It teaches colors, matching, numbers and addition. As he masters these basics we can increase his awareness to the concept of logic and strategy in gameplay. We started playing when my son was three and it is one of his favorite games.
As he is little and needs help, we play with our cards face up on the table. With each hand we need to say the color of the card and number or wording on the card. Typically, we play for 20 minutes or so at a time. Basically, the time it takes for the one year old to eat a snack. Also, I have found 20 minutes to be a good time limit for me as breaking down the games and keeping the pre-schooler focused can be exhausting.
Learning can be unconventional if you simply take the time to think about the games you enjoy and the foundation skills children need to succeed. Add in a bit of creativity and patience and the unconventional can be fun for all!
I stop for a moment and reflect upon compassion to myself. The bulk of my time is spent guiding three young ones, being an active and supportive partner and then making time for family, friends and Grove.
Often, I feel I am failing those closest to me. Being a stay at home parent is more demanding and time consuming than any career or job I have ever had. If I have love for you, I will do my best for you.
This grants me a rich family life but leaves me feeling stretched thin. Pushing myself farther each day to be better than the day before. I have very high self standards and when I fail to hit my personal goals and standards this leaves me hollow and hurting.
So I once again begin my practice of compassion, starting with myself. I am once person providing care for many, working many rolls and trying to feed my soul.
In this moment, I light myself a flame for compassion and hope. I will simply sit in this present moment observing my world and drinking a cup of coffee. Gently refilling my inner well with compassion, hope and stillness.
How can you practice compassion on yourself?
Earth Mother and Sky Father Preface
At nDraiocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) holds a place of honor for Earth Mother within their core order of ritual (COoR). This is based on the archeological evidence of her spiritual significance to our Indo-European ancestors. Ancient or modern we rely on Earth Mother for everything from water, food and shelter to beauty and inspiration.
Sky Father is not part of ADF’s core order of ritual. However, that does not mean he was not important to our Indo-European ancestors. As such, while not an official part of ADF’s ritual structure there are groves and individuals who choose to honor Sky Father.
“The union of the Sky God and the Earth Goddess, which maintains the cosmic order and bestows prosperity on the land as it’s fertilized by the sun and the rain, is often referred to as a hieros gamos or hierogamy, “divine marriage,” by historians of the religion. (1)
This concept can be found flowing through many of the myths that we can access. The Gods are known by many names from culture to culture. However, their concept and importance to each culture comes through in surviving mythology and archeological evidence.
14 February 2018
Earth Mother and Sky Father Devotion (Prayer)
Blessed lady who first emerged at the dawn of creation,
Your cycle of life carries beauty, inspiration and death
Your body is Home to fur, fin, feather, scale and skin
Your body nurtures all who live, play and grow
In the land, sea and sky
Earth Mother, I honor you!
Creator of gentle breezes and vast storms
You who support Earth Mother with rain, sun and everything in between
Playground to feathered kin, inspiration and dreams
Home to Sun, Moon and Stars
Sky Father, I honor you!
Irisa MacKenzie 2018
Earth Mother and Sky Father shrine photos
Currently, these are kept on the kitchen table where the children can work with them. It consists of sage for sky father as the smoke represents purity and cleansing. This reminds me of the winds. An earth mother statue, tree incense burner, well and LED candles.
I have struggled crafting daily devotions the last few years. The main reason is that I have held onto this image of what my daily devotions should look like, rather than seeing what they have naturally morphed into. For decades I was in a childless relationship that allowed me to focus on career, hobbies and spirituality. Most of my free time was spent in the pursuit of spiritual, religious and metaphysical knowledge.
This knowledge was used to craft my own spiritual practice which was outwardly expressed by hosting and moderating message boards as well as, facilitating chats and workshops. The inward or private reflection of my practice incorporated meditation, writing, devotionals and offerings. All my free time was devoted to my practice. Then I made a major life shift and have since realize that the practice that I was trying to hold onto was the one that worked when I had personal responsibility to myself, not others and could craft commitments more easily.
In essence, I have been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. By doing so I have set unrealistic expectations for myself. This led to feeling that I failed myself and my practice when I could not make my daily life fit my mental image. My personal expectations and reality were operating on two different levels. Because of this I was being critical of myself instead of honoring the space where my body, mind, and spirit now resided.
My practice always existed and has naturally evolved as my lifestyle and commitments changed. It simply did not fit my mental image of what I have always read and discussed with others a spiritual practice should look like in a modern neo-pagan context. Nor did that mental image fit within the context of my new lifestyle and responsibilities. I had held onto the mental image because of habit, social guidelines, peer pressure, and unexamined self expectations. This caused an internal struggle that was a disservice to the health of my body, mind and spirit.
Books, websites, festivals, workshops and retreats are all great places to meet people and learn techniques to feed your body, mind, and spirit. The techniques shared via media and social encounters can be wonderful, enlightening and sometimes just logical! However, if you are not realistic about incorporating these techniques into your practice and personality you are setting yourself up for failure.
Socially, we are taught to put our best foot forward and hide our flaws. This lends an unrealistic slant to the knowledge given and shared in the aforementioned places as it is rare to have deep conversations regarding the struggles of creating, establishing and maintaining a daily practice. The appearance of perfect practices by others can be intimidating or disheartening to those struggling. Don’t give up because everyone has struggled at one time or another with their practice.
Knowing your personality, lifestyle, commitments and free time is crucial to crafting a successful practice. You must be honest with yourself if you wish to craft a successful daily practice of devotion that feeds your body, mind, and spirit. When crafting your practice be honest with yourself concerning your personality, lifestyle, commitments and free time.
The more honest you are with yourself the more successful you will be in crafting a daily practice. Personality, lifestyle, commitments and free time are areas to examine when crafting a practice that will truly feed your body, mind and spirit. Some thoughts to ponder before while examining and crafting a daily practice:
• Who do I wish to share my practice with?
• What do I need to do to make this practice work?
• When can I practice?
• Where can I practice?
• Why do I wish to practice?
• How do I wish to share my practice?
These days I share my daily practice with my partner and three small children. Things that I must consider when setting up sacred space: breakables, safety of offerings (toxic herbs, choking hazards, etc.), fire vs. LED candles, etc.
As a reflection of these considerations our Earth Mother shrine is on the kitchen table. There is a statue, metal incense burner in the shape of a tree, glass and iron well, four Led candles and a small plastic bowl for offerings. Basically, the items the children will be handling are suitable for small hands. They are too young to light candles, but two of them can turn the LED candle on. This way the children can be more hands on in our devotions giving them more freedom for their exploration and expression.
There is another shrine in our home that is out of reach of the youngest. This contains statuary, traditional candles, a knife, fire, well and tree. It is also is where I would make any offerings that could be dangerous to an inquisitive toddler.
Life is fluid, so your practice should be too! When your lifestyle and commitments change, re-examine your practice. If you do not feel that your mind, body and spirit are being fed take a look and see what you can change. We are always growing, changing and learning. Your practice should be a reflection of your personal growth and experiences.
Long before I was associated with ADF I worked with the Kindreds, but by other names: GodsGoddesses, Nature Spirits has specific names, and the Ancestors. So the broad term of Kindreds applying to GodsGoddesses, Nature spirits and Ancestors spoke to my soul.
Fire, Well and Tree along with incense offering were a representation of the elements that resonated within. Connections that I carry within my heart represented in nature and symbolized within my home upon my shrine.
Devotions feed the soul and deepen my relationship with the Kindreds. The practice of pausing for devotions make me set aside time each day to breathe. To step aside from my roles and responsibilities and connect with the flame of inspiration and fire within.
Taking this time each day to reach into that fire is something that has lapsed the last few years. The ebb and flow of the daily devotion has been frustrating at best. I saw this ebb and flow as a struggle with my faith. Instead it was showing me how to redefine my fire amidst the needs of small children, pregnancy, and life.
Now that the needs of family life have evolved once again I can shift some time and focus to a daily practice as well as writing liturgy. I look forward to the time of reflection, learning, deepening relationships and feeding the fire within.
Create, Live, and Love,